McEntee rails against the referee again as Galway relegate Meath

Pádraic Joyce's side lucky to get out of Navan with the points after poor display

Galway’s Paul Conroy under pressure from David Toner of Meath. Photograph: Inpho

Galway’s Paul Conroy under pressure from David Toner of Meath. Photograph: Inpho

 

Galway 1-14 Meath 1-12

The hill doesn’t get any less steep for Meath but they’re getting closer to finding the gear to climb it. They will play in Division Two next year and yet the game that sealed their relegation produced their best performance of this league and probably of the few that have gone before it. They’ve lost eight games in a row going back to last year’s Super-8s but at least they had the winning of this one.

Andy McEntee’s side led by 1-6 to 0-1 in the 32nd minute but weren’t able to see out their advantage to the break. Galway, who had spent most of the opening half-hour in a complacent stupor, inched their way back in with three Shane Walsh frees and an Eamonn Brannigan point from play. When they followed it up with a goal from Ronan Steede five minutes after the restart, all of Meath’s good work was undone. Against a terrorising wind, they did well to make a game of it from there but still came up just short.

Those are the bare facts of the game but of course there are certain truths lying in the nooks and crannies. Not for the first time, McEntee spent much of his afternoon raging at the officials. Referee Niall Cullen had an impossible job at times, with players on both sides tussling off the ball and screaming their innocence as they rose. When it was put to McEntee afterwards that Cullen seemed to impartial eyes to have treated both side evenly enough, he was vehement in his disagreement.

“I didn’t think he was even,” he said. “I think he had too much of an influence on the game. The referee shouldn’t be influencing the game. He had too much of an influence. And the most influential period of that game was the 10 minutes before half-time, and he was the biggest factor in that. Sorry, him and the linesman on our side.

“It’s not a reflection on us. We’re trying to take kick-outs, fellas are running and making moves to try and get on the ball and they’re being dragged to the ground. That’s not a lack of cuteness on our part. That’s a lack of officials doing what they’re supposed to do, plain and simple.”

If McEntee had a point on an occasional decision – one throw-ball free in particular near the end of the first half seemed particularly harsh – it’s hardly the first time he has spent the aftermath of a Meath defeat indicting a referee. So either Meath are getting picked on by a league-wide conspiracy among the refereeing cabal or they’re getting the same amount of calls as everybody else and are just feeling it more keenly.

His counterpart Pádraic Joyce – with whom he was jawing at close enough quarters in the run-up to half-time – saw it differently.

“[Andy] can have his own opinion on it, but my opinion is that the referee refereed the game fairly all day long,” said Joyce. “And I was as unhappy with some of them as he was, but that’s the nature of refereeing. I thought the referee did a good job overall in the conditions.

“He let the game flow as much as he could. But there were times when . . . I saw a couple of Meath lads trying to drag our Galway fellas down to the ground, trying to get them in trouble, that were in trouble. Look it, these things happen; it’s 50-50 at the end of the day and there’s no point complaining.”

On the whole, Joyce’s side were lucky to get out of here with the points. They were over-run in the early stages as Ethan Devine, James Conlon and Bryan McMahon all ran clever patterns around them. Devine’s goal on 16 minutes was no more than Meath deserved and Galway were coughing in their dust most of the way.

And even after Steede pounced on a dreadful sideline ball from Brain Conlon early in the second half to stitch the Galway goal, Joyce’s side made heavy weather of it the rest of the way. Paul Conroy was the exception, scoring four points from play off the bench in a magnificent display.

Meath hung in and almost grabbed a draw late on but a Darragh Lenihan free was plucked from his crossbar by Galway goalkeeper Conor Gleeson.

Meath: Marcus Brennan; Robin Clarke, Conor McGill, David Toner; James McEntee, Ronan Ryan, Donal Keogan; Bryan Menton (0-2), Brian Conlon; Cillian O’Sullivan, Bryan McMahon (0-3), Ethan Devine (1-0); James Conlon (0-3), Thomas O’Reilly, Oisin O’Brien (0-1). Subs: Shane Walsh for O’Brien, 48 mins; Donal Lenihan (0-3, 0-2 frees) for Devine, 56 mins; Paraic Harnan for B Conlon, 65 mins;

Galway: Connor Gleeson; Sean Kelly, Sean Mulkerrin, Johnny Heaney; Liam Silke, John Daly, Gary O’Donnell; Ronan Steede (1-1), Tom Flynn; Eamonn Brannigan (0-1), Cein D’Arcy, Michael Daly (0-1); Martin Farragher, Shane Walsh (0-7, 0-6 frees), Adrian Varley. Subs: Paul Conroy (0-4) for Farragher, 27 mins; Gareth Bradshaw for O’Donnell, 53 mins; Robert Finnerty for Varley, 56 mins; Darragh Silke for M Daly, 61 mins; Matthias Barrett for Steede, 64 mins

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.